Pentagon Creates Office to Bolster International Legitimacy

By
Tuesday, June 08, 2010 at 6:00 am
Michele Flournoy, left, created the

Michele Flournoy, left, created the Office for Rule of Law and International Humanitarian Policy, which is led by Rosa Brooks. (ZUMA, Bloggerama)

For the first time, the Department of Defense has established an office to guide policy on emerging non-traditional military activities like compliance with the rule of law, humanitarian emergencies and human rights. It’s a bureaucratic change that effectively frames international legitimacy as a security issue, a reflection of the legacy of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars among some policymakers. And the office’s first test may be its perspective on the thorny questions surrounding how the department handles al-Qaeda and Taliban detainees.

[Security1] Announced within the Pentagon in late May, the Office for Rule of Law and International Humanitarian Policy is being led by Rosa Brooks, a senior adviser to Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy and a former director of Georgetown Law School’s Human Rights Center. It endeavors to ensure that the broad strategic aims of the Obama administration regarding adherence to a rules-based international order don’t get lost in the pressures of military contingencies. It will also advise senior Pentagon officials on their contributions to interagency planning and White House requests for advice on rule-of-law compliance, and will work with Congress and non-governmental organizations focusing on its host of issues.

The office — created by Flournoy with support from Defense Secretary Robert Gates and run by a staff that will eventually number 20 people — reflects a recent recognition that the legitimacy of the U.S. military in combat plays its own battlefield role, especially in conflicts like Afghanistan, where perceptions by civilians about whether to support America’s allies or its adversaries are considered decisive. “The counterinsurgency and counterterrorism doctrine has really moved in the direction of saying that these issues are not luxuries,” Brooks explained in a Monday interview at the Pentagon. “These issues are absolutely central to achieving our military objectives in a counterinsurgency or a counterterrorism environment, where the name of the game is ‘Do you have credibility? Do you have legitimacy? Are you building the structures that support long-term stability?’”

Many of the office’s emerging responsibilities will center on entrenching respect for the rule of law and human rights as a core focus within the Defense Department. Previously, Pentagon officials who worked on those issues were spread throughout the policy directorate, in bureaus as disparate as Counternarcotics and Detainee Affairs, a reflection of the secondary — Brooks called it “ad hoc” — treatment the department has traditionally provided to humanitarian concerns. Karen Greenberg, the director of New York University’s Center on Law and Security, said the office needs to “restore the notion that the rule of law is there on the table no matter what.” Matthew Waxman, a deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs at the end of the Bush administration, added that “sometimes important strategic issues can fall into bureaucratic seams, and redrawing parts of the organizational map can help address that.”

That contrasts with the previous administration’s perspective that human rights and the rule of law were impediments to effective military operations. President Bush famously judged in 2002 that al-Qaeda and Taliban detainees ought to be treated humanely “to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity.”

While building a staff and a budget means that Brooks anticipates the office’s agenda will take shape over the next several months, she said some early priority “areas to look at” include the Defense Department’s security assistance and training for partner militaries — to ensure it “not inadvertently undermin[e]” the U.S. interest in promoting the rule of law — and the effectiveness of department support to judicial systems.

Developing broader policy guidance to protect civilians during combat is another likely focus for the office, Brooks said, citing Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s guidance to his troops in Afghanistan about the need to secure civilian support for NATO military operations. “Reducing civilian casualties supports achieving military objectives,” Brooks said. “If the population is furious at you because bombs keep falling on schools, it’s harder to achieve your objectives.” She added that the propriety of “a global directive of that sort” required further study, but anticipated that any such study would have “potential consequences” for crafting military doctrine on protecting civilians.

“The goal would be to see if we need to make changes,” Brooks said, stressing that her agenda is still preliminary. “It’s a moral goal, and it is a tactical and strategic goal, to minimize civilian casualties. Are we doing it as effectively as we could? Do we have the systems in place, the doctrine in place, the training in place, to do as well as we could, while recognizing that doctrine, training, et cetera matters?”

In some cases, like U.S. compliance with treaty obligations, Brooks said she expects her office to serve in a supporting role to other agencies, while taking the lead on issues where the military has the greatest stake. “The State Department can’t determine whether DOD needs to revise its doctrine to better protect civilians,” she said.

Some human-rights advocates greeted the establishment of the new office with optimism. “To the extent the Pentagon is engaging directly with foreign governments, having a human rights voice in that room is extremely important, so the U.S. speaks with a single voice,” said Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch. “You don’t want the State Department coming in one day with a broad policy agenda [including] respect for human rights and humanitarian principles and the Pentagon coming in the next day talking about basing rights without the two being coordinated.”

Greenberg said the big test for the office will be its ability to help influence the emerging shape of detainee policy. Administration officials and congressional leaders have discussed the creation of frameworks for indefinite detention without charge, an idea that found its way into the National Security Strategy under the rubric of creating an “approach that can be sustained by future Administrations, with support from both political parties and all three branches of government.” Malinowski cautioned against viewing detainee policy as a crucible for the new office, but said he hopes the office can “guard against the tendency of the Pentagon as an institution to reflexively defend the expanded powers that it received in the last administration.”

Brooks said that her office “will work very closely” with Col. William Lietzau, the deputy assistant secretary for detainee affairs, but did not specify any programmatic agenda. “Bill Lietzau is someone who’s already attuned to those issues anyway, so those are the kinds of conversations that we’re always having,” Brooks said, concerning how to “make sure that as we try to work through these thorny inherited detainee issues that we’re doing it in a way that buttresses our broad commitments to rule-of-law norms.”

“And it’s not easy on those issues,” she added. “The briar patch we started out with has been a tough one to get ourselves out of without sustaining a lot of little scratches.”

Waxman wrestled with those issues while he ran detainee policy for the Rumsfeld Pentagon. He hailed Brooks’ office as a step toward integrating law and strategy. “Often those issues are thought of as separate spheres: The lawyers in the general counsel’s office and the military judge advocates say what the legal bounds are and the policy advisers and military planners and operators decide within those bounds what the strategy is,” Waxman said. “That’s too simplistic and risks missing the many ways in which the two operate in tandem, and this new office looks like it’s intended to help ensure they do so effectively. For example, the United States may have a strategic interest in abiding by certain standards, because we want to promote those standards abroad among foreign forces or because it’s believed to strengthen counterinsurgency efforts to win hearts and minds.”

Brooks herself will continue to wear several hats in the Pentagon. In addition to becoming the first deputy assistant secretary of defense for Rule of Law and International Humanitarian Policy, she’ll remain Flournoy’s senior adviser and helm the policy directorate’s Global Strategic Engagement Team. “Rosa is an excellent person to do this job,” Malinowski said. “I’m happy to hear the position has been created and happy to hear she’s filling it.”

Follow Spencer Ackerman on Twitter


Comments

39 Comments

Tweets that mention Pentagon Creates Office to Bolster International Legitimacy « The Washington Independent -- Topsy.com
Pingback posted June 8, 2010 @ 6:59 am

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by abuaardvark, WashIndependent. WashIndependent said: Pentagon Creates Office to Bolster International Legitimacy – http://bit.ly/aaa2h7 [...]


Pentagon Creates Office to Bolster International Legitimacy « The … « office
Pingback posted June 8, 2010 @ 7:50 am

[...] Przeczytaj artyku?: Pentagon Creates Office to Bolster International Legitimacy « The … [...]


William Bounds Metro Mini Salt Mill
Pingback posted June 8, 2010 @ 8:01 am

[...] Pentagon Creates Office To Bolster International Legitimacy « The … Submitted on:Tuesday 8th of June 2010 08:01:35 AM voted by 4 users [...]


iPhone 4: International release dates (what we have so far) | Apple Product Tips And App News
Pingback posted June 8, 2010 @ 8:36 am

[...] Pentagon Creates Office to Bolster International Legitimacy « The … [...]


Home Mortgage Loans Let You Live in your Nest | Credit and Loan
Pingback posted June 8, 2010 @ 9:38 am

[...] Pentagon Creates Office to Bolster International Legitimacy « The … [...]


Matthew Yglesias » Rosa Brooks to Head New Office for Rule of Law and International Humanitarian Policy
Pingback posted June 8, 2010 @ 10:45 am

[...] Ackerman has a fascinating piece out at the Washington Independent exploring the creation of a new Office for the Rule of Law and International Humanitarian Policy inside the Pentagon. This is the kind of thing that I think I ought to be cynical about since fundamentally [...]


Today’s Terrorism News « The CenterLine
Pingback posted June 8, 2010 @ 11:24 am

[...] concentrate on and shape U.S. “non-traditional military activities,” according to the Washington Independent. Rosa Brooks, an adviser to the undersecretary of defense,  will head the office and work to make [...]


ajm8127
Comment posted June 8, 2010 @ 11:46 am

“If the population is furious at you because bombs keep falling on schools, it’s harder to achieve your objectives.”

“…the United States may have a strategic interest in abiding by certain standards, because we want to promote those standards abroad among foreign forces…”

Two very reasonable points.


Airlines group: new German fees a ‘cash grab’ : Jumping Anaconda
Pingback posted June 8, 2010 @ 1:04 pm

[...] Pentagon Creates Office to Bolster International Legitimacy « The Washington Independent [...]


Draft transcript of ICTR charging Peter Robinson with contempt | News1st Online News Updates
Pingback posted June 8, 2010 @ 3:34 pm

[...] Pentagon Creates Office to Bolster International Legitimacy « The … [...]


rtrem2
Comment posted June 8, 2010 @ 3:36 pm

Jr started all this rule with impunity, shoot from the hip, laws apply to everyone except me, I can have anyone killed because I can, I can rob the rights and monies from all citizens and have labeled anyone who disagrees with me a communist or terrorist (whichever term is best suited for getting my way.) The lipstick of this new DOA office may well be fashionable, but it won't stop these adolescent type government employees and politicians from going around the world starting wars wherever they can, while masquerading as the world's saviors and the bearers of true democracy. The saddest part is that they will inevitably destroy the earth, as we now know it, without having realized that they needed the earth to survive, and that we're either too ignorant, proud, or arrogant to do anything about them. After all, if we allow them to destroy the earth, where are we going to live? Any thoughts?


ajm8127
Comment posted June 8, 2010 @ 3:52 pm

I agree with you. We will meet our demise through a combination of arrogance and ignorance.

Concerning my post above, those are reasonable points, but we will see what unfolds. Politicians have a tendency to say one thing and then do another.


bjkeefe
Comment posted June 8, 2010 @ 4:37 pm

Spencer:

You of all people should know that shot of Rosa Brooks comes from Bloggingheads.tv. (Originally, I mean, even if that's not where you got it.)


Women, Power and Politics: script for a revolution | News1st Online News Updates
Pingback posted June 8, 2010 @ 5:37 pm

[...] Pentagon Creates Office to Bolster International Legitimacy « The … [...]


spencerackerman
Comment posted June 8, 2010 @ 5:45 pm

Hmm, I didn't notice the attribution. Let me see what's what. But you're right, I'm pretty sure that shot of Brooks came from a BHtv appearance.


Aaron Wiener
Comment posted June 8, 2010 @ 6:23 pm

BJ,

You very well may be right, but it was uploaded to Wikipedia and released into the public domain by “bloggerama.” No idea who or what that is or if it's related to bloggingheads.tv, but that's where the license for public use comes from.

Aaron


bjkeefe
Comment posted June 8, 2010 @ 6:53 pm

I probably should have put a winkie after my comment, because I did not mean to make a fuss about the licensing of the image or anything like that. Just teasing Spencer, is all.

Thanks for ack'ing, Spack.


North Capitol Street » Blog Archive » Whither Afghanistan Strategy? Find Out Next Week
Pingback posted June 8, 2010 @ 8:05 pm

[...] testifying is anyone from the diplomatic or development or rule-of-law fields (although one of Flournoy’s advisers, Rosa Brooks, can help her out on that latter concern). Which may be jurisdictional, given that this is an armed services committee hearing, but [...]


Office Christmas Gift Exchange – toys that remind us of them?
Pingback posted June 8, 2010 @ 10:16 pm

[...] Pentagon Creates Office to Bolster International Legitimacy « The … [...]


Shrek still scoring as World Cup looms | Jeremy Kay | News1st Online News Updates
Pingback posted June 8, 2010 @ 10:49 pm

[...] Pentagon Creates Office to Bolster International Legitimacy « The … [...]


The US and The World: Pentagon Creates Office for International Legitimacy (Ackerman) | Enduring America
Pingback posted June 9, 2010 @ 4:24 am

[...] Spencer Ackerman writes in The Washington Independent: [...]


What could Office Depot do to assist Home School groups?
Pingback posted June 9, 2010 @ 5:48 am

[...] Pentagon Creates Office to Bolster International Legitimacy « The … [...]


wholesale mlb jerseys
Comment posted June 10, 2010 @ 3:33 am

so cool


wholesale nfl jerseys
Comment posted June 10, 2010 @ 3:36 am

thank you for your sharing


New US guidelines of the pregnancy a bad message f | Pregnancy calculatore Blog
Pingback posted June 10, 2010 @ 3:00 pm

[...] Pentagon Creates Office to Bolster International Legitimacy « The … [...]


Hawaiianstyle
Comment posted June 11, 2010 @ 6:23 pm

I'm from the Military Industrial Complex and I'm here to help you.

We do have a State Department for diplomatic action
We do have US Aid and many other agencies to provide Aid

What the military is saying is they need to better spin why they are in some foreign country with their guns and Drones.

How would you spin accidental killing of civilians with unmanned drones? Let's see you could call it “collateral damage”.

Maybe we need to rethink how we respond to sovereign nations that don't like us. Maybe we need to become known as a nation that helps those in need without supporting/maintaining unpopular dictators or without a political motive..

I hear all these right wing “Christians” yelling kill the gays, yelling other religions are not real or good, Maybe they should try to influence our government in the ways of Christ? Do unto others….or else they will respond to us as we do unto them.


Jumping Anaconda » Blog Archive » Shakira arrives in South Africa (source: Topix.net)
Pingback posted June 12, 2010 @ 2:58 am

[...] Pentagon Creates Office to Bolster International Legitimacy « The Washington Independent [...]


Jumping Anaconda » Blog Archive » Katie Holmes Promotes Dizzy Feet In Vegas
Pingback posted June 13, 2010 @ 12:01 am

[...] Pentagon Creates Office to Bolster International Legitimacy « The Washington Independent [...]


An Overview Of New York Law Schools | World University Information
Pingback posted June 13, 2010 @ 11:57 am

[...] Pentagon Creates Office to Bolster International Legitimacy « The … [...]


Internet Fraud Question?
Pingback posted June 19, 2010 @ 11:31 am

[...] Pentagon Creates Office to Bolster International Legitimacy « The … [...]


Unsecured Debt Settlement – Finding A Trustful Agency
Pingback posted June 22, 2010 @ 12:01 am

[...] Pentagon Creates Office to Bolster International Legitimacy « The Washington Indepen… [...]


How Would Indonesia React to A Political Crisis Such as Thailand's? | World Politics
Pingback posted June 22, 2010 @ 4:24 pm

[...] Pentagon Creates Office to Bolster International Legitimacy « The Washington Independent [...]


Pentagon Launches New Human Rights Office | The Dollhouse Dispatch
Pingback posted July 9, 2010 @ 4:59 pm

[...] Posted on July 9, 2010 by Lyric Thompson Last month, the Department of Defense launched a new office on human rights and humanitarian policy, which it says is reflecting the Administration’s emphasis on maintaining compliance with [...]


louis vuitton
Comment posted August 4, 2010 @ 3:26 am

Maybe we need to rethink how we respond to sovereign nations that don't like us. Maybe we need to become known as a nation that helps those in need without supporting/maintaining unpopular dictators or without a political motive.


What Exactly is the US Doing to Protect its Afghan Partners? : Lawyers, Guns & Money
Pingback posted September 1, 2010 @ 6:29 pm

[...] new DOD Office for the Rule of Law and International Humanitarian Policy, headed by Rosa Brooks. As Spencer Ackerman reported last May, the new entity’s mandate is to “entrench respect for the rule of law and human rights [...]


french wallet
Comment posted September 2, 2010 @ 10:31 am

It's a interesting news, I like it.


Pregnancy Miracle
Trackback posted March 7, 2011 @ 11:02 pm

Pregnancy Miracle…

[...]below you’ll see my links page http://www.pregnancymiraclez.net/my-favourite-sites/ with some good websites that I think you should definitely go visit[...]…


xuejiao wen
Comment posted May 26, 2011 @ 9:43 am

We have all been fond of office 2007 professional plus furniture haven’t we? With ms windows 7  designs available in all parts of Windows 7 Ultimate, Internet is one medium to choose the best Cheap Windows 7 at competitive prices and that too at a store near your Office 2010 Professional. Below http://hohosoftware.wordpress.com summarize some Microsoft Office 2010 to help you choose the best Office 2007 Enterprise for your corporate as well as office 2007 product key : Generally, while http://hohosoftware.blogspot.com are searching Office 2007 Key, we just type in our window 7  and start browsing the http://peaksoftwares.blogspot.com which appear in the Microsoft Office 2007 Enterprise. But here is the Cheap Windows 7 : most of the searches we do without specifying a location with the purchase windows 7 , we end up wasting our time. Let http://peaksoftwares.wordpress.com take an example of windows 7 download . Now people go to Google and type “Windows 7 Ultimate ” and start browsing the Buy Windows 7 . They spend a lot of time finalizing Download Windows 7  but when they decide to contact the Win 7  for the price quotes and delivery time, they generally end up realizing that the Microsoft Windows 7  from which they had selected the Windows 7 , belongs to a different country and the buy microsoft office 2007 cannot export to a their Windows 7 Professional. The simple solution to Windows 7 Professional  would have been, assuming that the Buy Windows 7 buyer resides in India, to search for the keyword “Microsoft Windows 7 India” or “Windows 7 Home Premium  in India” instead of the keyword “Download Office 2010” because when the buyer searched for “buy office 2007”, sites from different countries showed up, microsoft office professional 2010 plus might have had good designs Office 2007 download were not available in window 7 but they were of no use. The purchase windows 7 advantage of using a location such as Office 2007 Ultimate, in case it suits the buyers, office professional 2007 plus can go and checkout their Office 2007 Key and maybe get a better design microsoft office downloads has recently become popular but is not ms office 2007 professional on the website.


The Moron Test apk
Comment posted September 6, 2011 @ 8:35 pm

Thanks i love your article about Pentagon Creates Office to Bolster International Legitimacy | The Washington Independent


RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.